Friday Finds #132



Two great articles on a similar topic you may relate to!

How Motherhood changed the way I teach piano (Piano Teacher Confessions) by Rebekah Maxner

Has Parenthood Changed My Teaching? by Elissa Milne



I’m totally loving this steel frame dish rack. Would you pay that much for a dish rack?



Awesome new podcast alert! Check out Decomposed with Jade Simmons

“Decomposed breaks down the stories that have shaped classical music, from secrets and scandals to acts of sheer genius. Hear these stories accompanied by the symphonies, operas and other masterpieces they inspired. Hosted by Jade Simmons, a classical concert pianist and storyteller, the first season of Decomposed takes on gender expectations, Cold War propaganda and the danger of putting your personal life on the stage. Produced in partnership with Classical Minnesota Public Radio.”



In other Podcast news, NPR hosted a Student Podcast Challenge. I think this is so cool!



Choose Your Life Every Day



Buying plants on Amazon? Why am I surprised?



Prep your students for their recital (if you haven’t already had it!) using the Compliment Exchange Cards.



How to Make More Time as a Piano Teacher with Help from technology



Friday Finds #131

Today’s featured photo is the piano teacher family tree I give to each one of my students when they join my studio. I updated it recently and am going to frame it along with a photo of me with my two most recent teachers.

Unfortunately, as you can see, I can’t remember the last name of one of my teachers! She was a college music major I studied with for a couple of years. Someday it will come back to me!

My piano teacher when I was in grad school at Ball State, Dr. Lori Rhoden gave this piano teacher heritage list to all her students. She studied with Dr. Maurice Hinson who is the one that did all the research.

How cool is that when you can tell your students they are the great, great, great, great, great grandstudent of Beethoven?

(Much of this was inspired by the Varsity Musician’s Playbook series here on Piano Pantry.)



The Gordon Institute for Music Learning has announced its 2019 Professional Development Courses.



Piano Music for Teens



I’ve seen Clinton present on his Music Alive! Recitals and it’s such a fun idea! Bookmark it for a unique and fun future recital in your studio!



Snooze is a Trap | Seth Godin



What’s the difference between a frittata and a quiche?



My husband sent me a link to these Soft Batch Chocolate Chip Cookies Cookies. I think he’s trying to give me a hint.



Check out these beautiful food-themed silver necklaces! What a fun and unique gift they would make for the food-lover in your life!



Looking for a unique and practical gift for a high school or college graduate? Consider a subscription to Birchbox!



Ina Garten’s Tips for When Store-Bought is More than Just Fine. I completely agree! I mean, who is seriously going to make their own puff pastry! LOL. (I do make my own vanilla extract though.)



Music Education Benefits for Kids In A 90 Second Animation

Improve Your Audience’s Recital Experience with these Simple Signs

Organizing a studio recital involves lots of different aspects beyond student repertoire preparation. Many of us, I’m sure, have stories we can tell of the lessons learned in our first few years of recital-planning.

One of my first lessons-learned was to put up some kind of signage, especially when the recital is not in the same location every year.

Is it a necessity? No. Can people generally find their way to the recital hall or auditorium eventually? Yes.

So why use direction signs?

If you’ve ever attended a graduation party, baby shower, or conference, I’m sure you will agree that the minute you see a sign indicating you are in the correct location, you breathe a sigh of relief.

It’s comforting to not have to wonder if you’re in the right location or to have to search for where you’re going. Relieving this small anxiety for your audience will not only make a great first impression but will add a professional touch with little effort. All it takes is a few signs posted around the building where the recital is being held.

The signs are very simple – no frills. I kept them pretty plain rather than with a design so they can be used at any kind of recital, no matter what your program looks like.

They’re being made available to you in Microsoft Word format so you can download the document and make tweaks to your heart’s content or print only the signs you’ll use.

I like to include my logo at the top of the page.  Feel free to import your own!

Signs include:

  • Arrows pointing to the correct direction to find the recital location/room.
  • Asking the audience to wait in the foyer until the doors open.
  • Reminding attendees food and drink should be taken into the recital hall. (Unless you’re having a special recital like a picnic of course! 🙂
  • Asking the audience to sit toward the front half of the room. (I use these when we’re in a large sanctuary so it doesn’t feel like they’re all spread out. I set them on either end of the row/pew encouraging people to keep moving forward.


Consider taking your signage a step further and purchase a yard sign you can reuse from year to year that has your studio logo and says “Recital Here” or something generic that could be used for any kind of performance(s) you organize in your studio.

What was one of the first things you learned when planning a recital that helped it go smoother the following year and each year since?

Winner of Piano Lessons by Noah Adams

The winner of last week’s giveaway is Suzanne H. She will get a copy of Piano Lessons: Music, Love and True Adventures by Noah Adams.

I will email you, Suzanne to obtain your address. Thanks to all who entered!

Friday Finds #130

My photo-highlight this week is a little project I worked on this past week. It was an update of my One-Minute Club board. To read more about how I run this program in my studio, visit this post.

I must say, I was pretty proud of how this board turned out! The inspiration behind it was two-fold. First, one of my students asked who all had won in the past and while I told her names, I realized faces help us connect more. Second, the photos were also inspired by by the Varsity Musician’s Playbook series.



Here’s the photo mat I purchased on Amazon for this project. I simply put it on small velcro rounds behind it and velcroed it to the board. The photos are taped from behind so I can easily remove the frame each year to add the winner’s photo.



I finally got around to reading a couple of bookmarked articles I had from the new year. I was going to wait to share but decided they were too good to hold back even if we’re not in “new year” mode.

Finding Sabbath Again

Starting the New Year with Rest (her way of thinking about our cycles of rest is really interesting)



Amazing things in education!

Bal-A-Vis-X from OSDE on Vimeo.



5 Books that Helped Me Heal (P.S. I’m currently reading #3 with the staff at my church!)



Not normally a casserole girl, but with my need for very easy food right now, this one is going on rotation for a while!

Marsala Chicken-and-Mushroom Casserole



Don’t miss entering the giveaway I posted earlier this week!



Piano Lessons: Music, Love & True Adventures

Today I have a giveaway for you!

A few years ago I read the book “Piano Lessons: Music, Love, & True Adventures” by Noah Adams. In my quest to always minimize “things” in my possession, I was looking over a few books I owned and asking myself whether they were ones I would want to read again and take with me into my future.

This book, while I recall enjoying it, is not one that I necessarily would need to read more than once.

It’s a memoir by Noah Adams, long-time co-host of NPR’s All Things Considered. He writes of his journey with learning to play the piano over the course of a year.

I’m not a big reader of memoirs and biographies, but if you are, I’m sure you will find this book delightful!

Please keep in mind, what I’m giving away is my used copy. It’s paperback with slight wear on the outside and a few highlights throughout.

Rather than just donate it to a bookstore, I thought one of my readers might enjoy it. (It will be mailed within two business days of the giveaway ending via media mail at no cost to you.)

In order to enter this giveaway, please comment on this post and answer the simple question: Do you enjoy memoirs? (Even if you don’t, you can still win! 🙂 )

You can gain an extra entry by visiting the Piano Pantry page on Facebook.

Only those with a U.S. mailing address can win.

The drawing opens at 12:00 am on Tuesday, April 23 and ends at 12:00 am on Tuesday, April 30. The winner will be randomly selected.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Are you a reader? Check out more recommended resources on Piano Pantry!

Books for Piano Teachers

Books for Piano Teachers interested in Music Learning Theory (MLT)


Friday Finds #129

OK, so you may find this a little bit of a strange feature photo for today, I don’t know, but it summarizes what I’ve been up to. If anything, the photo just makes me happy because the Scrabble word is just so cute!

Since July I’ve been working as the interim worship team coordinator for my church. Basically, (since I have another job at another church as well), it means I do all the scheduling (we use Planning Center Services), choose all the music, rehearse the band on Thursdays nights, and at 8:00 on Sunday morning. Then, I say “go” and the team plays for 9:30 and 11:00 services while I go play for the Lutheran church in our town at 9:30 and then come back for worship at 11:00 with my husband.

It’s craziness, I know. No wonder I just purchased the newest book from Michael Hyatt, “Free to Focus”!

We’re about to hire a new worship pastor finally, so my time is coming to an end in the next month or two. We had an appreciation dinner for our worship team last Friday and brought in BBQ from an amazing local BBQ joint.



If I had another great photo to wrap up this past week in the life of the world, you know what it would be…the burning of the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. 🙁

Here’s an update on the great organ of Notre Dame.



How Inuit Parents Teach Kids To Control Their Anger



Maverick Composer, George Crumb turned 90. Here’s a great article on him from the New York Times.

Access the Spotify playlist the NY Times created in celebration of his birthday here. (I listened to it while writing these Friday Finds. 🙂 )



The presentation I gave to Kansas City MTA two weeks ago was held in a beautiful Steinway shop. Before I left, one of the workers gave me a  copy of the most recent Steinway owners magazine. It was as hefty and beautiful as I would expect any publication from Steinway to be. There were three articles in particular that I found really fascinating that I found published online I wanted to share with you:

Seven Centuries in Eighty Minutes: In An Ambitious Program, Jeremy Denk Surveys the History of Western Music

Playing the Barre: The Invisible But Dispensible Ballet Rehearsal Pianist

In Celebration of the 165th Anniversary of Steinway, here’s their Limited Edition model.



Some ideas to help your students as they prepare for upcoming recital performances.



I was looking for a fresh arrangement of something to play for the prelude on Easter Sunday, so I purchased Leila’s newly-released arrangement of “Lift High the Cross.” Thanks, Leila!



Wow! Heather has some really great ideas for one area of the recital no one really ever talks about: the welcome speech! Hmmm…now I feel convicted to try something different!



Why Kids Don’t Practice and What to Do About It

An excellent article from Leila once again. This is not the first time she has written an in-depth article in reflection of a TED-Talk.

P.S. I agree that you should spend the 15 minutes to watch the TED-Talk she mentions. Grab a cup of coffee and don’t do anything else.



Friday Finds #128

Last week I mentioned that my husband and I were on our way to Kansas City for a short 4-day getaway as an extension to a contracted session I had on Friday morning with the Kansas City MTA. I’ve been slow to get many photos up on social media from this trip, but we had a great time and the Spring weather was incredible!

One of the big sites we visited was the National WWI Museum. This photo is taken from the museum overlooking the city. The building you see front and center in the photo is Union Station which is absolutely beautiful inside. I thought this was a beautiful overview of the city to share with you today.



A fun little finger number activities worksheet from 4D Piano Teaching.



Indiana school district turns unused cafeteria food into take-home meals for kids in need. Why isn’t every school doing this?



The Best Electric Kettles, According to the Best Experts.

We first discovered electric water kettles when we lived in Australia. It was common for every home to have one as many homes drank instant coffee (yuck!). They are an absolute gem to have available and so convenient for boiling water!

We have the Capresso Kettle which is recommended by America’s Test Kitchen (at least it was at the time!)



A few fun finds for piano teachers from Natalie Weber.



I am determined to have green plants in my home even though I do not have a green thumb. Articles like this one on how to stop killing your plants are for people like me!



At the 2019 MTNA Conference a few weeks ago, I attended a fantastic session in Pedagogy Saturday’s Teaching Artistry Track called “Do These Five Things Always and Forever.” The presenter, Veda Suponic, recently gave this session for an MTNA Webinar which can be accessed here.



Jennifer has a great idea for your summer session. Check out how she does practice packets.



Two weeks ago, Evernote launched the Evernote for Gmail add-on. I’m trying it out now and hope to write a review in the near future after using it for awhile.



Wendy’s recital programs are always sooooo beautiful! I use her programs almost every year. Check out her new Spring Recital Program Package.



One of my favorite recipes I’ve been making without a kitchen these past 4 months are these Spicy Chicken Soft Tacos. All you do is toss chicken tenders in a mixture of EVOO and Sriracha and bake them (I’m using a small countertop oven). Pre-shredded cabbage and plain yogurt are all we need to make a decent toping and dinner is done!


Friday Finds #127

As this post is going up, I’m talking to a group of teachers in Kansas City on digital management strategies for independent music teachers like yourself.

My hubby came with me and we made a short 4-day weekend out of it. Rest assured we will be eating some BBQ! Follow me on Instagram or Facebook.

As your local group moves into the planning stages for your events next year, you may be interested in some of the sessions I have available. It would be so fun to come and talk to your group!



In February I did a Zoom session with Raleigh MTA. One of the teachers there recently shared a beautiful video of her music with me and I wanted to pass it on to you. Visit for more details!



I’ve had Thai twice in the past 3 weeks and it’s been divine. Here’s a simple recipe for the iconic and easy go-to Thai dish, Pad Thai.



How reading old books gives us new perspective. 



I created a playlist for Easter with more than 50 songs and 4 hours of listening. Available on Spotify, all you need is a free account to listen. Spotify has an app as well as a desktop client for easy listening.



Every home should have a hand-held vacuum of some kind. They’re just too convenient! I have a Shark Vac at home and at my studio!

It’s a short week. See you next week!



Friday Finds #126

This week’s wrap-up post from MTNA 2019 didn’t include this photo, so I had to share it as the featured photo for this week’s Friday Finds. 🙂 I have a good friend who totally rocks high heels, so this photo was for her.



Besides my own wrap-up post, there were a lot of other wonderful wrap-up posts written this week from the national conference in Spokane. Here are the ones I’ve caught thus far:

Christina Whitlock (author of the Varsity Musician’s Playbook on Piano Pantry)

Benjamin Steinhardt (one of the admins of The Art of Piano Pedagogy Facebook group)

Joy Morin (



An Easy Timeline for Creating Your Own Solo Festival. I’ve often thought about doing something like this, but have never taken the initiative to make it happen. I think it’s a great idea though. The fact that you can cater it to your own studio’s progressive plan, and it would be really convenient for students to not have to travel to a festival location and two the biggest reasons I would do it.



Oh my goodness, have you ever seen anything like this vintage typewriter for music notation? How interesting!



The Three Modes of Piano Teaching by Samantha Coates.



It’s the time of year when we need to think about talking to students who need to move to a longer lesson next year. Check out Wendy’s guide for how to move students to longer lessons.



If you’re a sucker for photos of beautiful homes, check out this one.



There are two daily blogs that I read. Seth Godin’s (of course), and Amy Bernadette (which I heard about from Seth Godin).

One of my favorite posts from Amy B. thus far is “What’s on Your ‘Not-to-Do’ List?”



I’ve been experimenting more and being brave with doing some Facebook Live videos on the Piano Pantry Facebook page. I did five short videos on staying organized at conferences and have also recently done a couple of other videos, each one highlighting one item from the previous week’s Friday Finds.

Friday Finds #121 – Some favorite stickers and how I organize them!

Friday Finds #125 – Music Learning Academy Podcast

I’m not making a declaration that I’ll be doing that every week or anything, but thought you might like to know!